You could call the 2020 football season a grind. You could call it taxing. Both words were used to describe the season on Monday.
“Week 7 or 8 . . .” tight end Austin Allen said. “I don’t even know what game it is now.”
It’s technically Week 9 in the Big Ten Conference, but also Week 8 if you’re Nebraska (considering the Huskers had one game canceled in 2020). Nebraska found out Sunday afternoon that it would travel to New Jersey to face Rutgers on Friday, so the Huskers quickly adjusted.
Coach Scott Frost said Monday that he and the team are used to adjusting on the fly, so it wasn’t a big deal. As for Monday, it was more like a Tuesday. Defensive lineman Ty Robinson said the week kicked off with “a normal Tuesday practice,” but it was relatively light from a physicality standpoint because of the short week.
Speaking of practice, the Huskers are adamant that it’s better in 2020 than it was just one year ago. Defensive lineman Casey Rogers sees a team that is “more together” than they have been prior.
“Practice, compared to last year, is night and day,” he said.
Rogers also acknowledges that the score doesn’t necessary show that yet though, but he’s confident it’ll flip. Frost agreed, saying he’s seen the progress, but . . .
“The progress matters, but the results have to come,” he said.
As for staying locked in during a season like this one? Outside linebacker Garrett Nelson credits the people around him.
“The older I get, the more I realize it’s not the situation you’re in, it’s the people you’re with,” he said.
For now, the Huskers have turned their attention to Rutgers. A short week of practice may not be the ideal situation, but Robinson said the team is just focused on the final game. It doesn’t matter when it’s played.
“If you truly love the game, playing football shouldn’t be that bad,” Robinson said.
More news and notes:
>> Frost said that quarterback Adrian Martinez missed a day of practice last week leading up to the Minnesota matchup due to his shoulder.
>> Noah Vedral, a former Nebraska quarterback, is now at Rutgers. Tight end Austin Allen said he talks to Vedral every week, and they’re still best friends. He added that Vedral is doing great things at Rutgers.
“I think he deserved, in a lot of ways, to be an athlete somewhere,” Allen said.
>> Speaking of Vedral, Frost said that Nebraska will have to change its signals just in case Vedral knows them.
“We’ll try to protect ourselves on Saturday,” Frost said.
He also added that Vedral “looks like the player we thought he was when we recruited him.”
>> The early signing period begins on Wednesday. Frost is balancing that this week, alongside game preparation. However, he said the staff has been busy since March working on this class and they are just wrapping things up for the 2021 recruiting class at this point.
“This group has a chance to make us even better and make us special,” Frost said.
>> As for the transfer portal, Frost said he doesn’t think there will be spots for every player jumping into it this year. He said the Huskers will have to be careful with who they look at because of the culture they have built.
“If we find the right guy, we might think about it,” Frost said. “Otherwise, there’s walk-ons on this team that deserve scholarships.”
>> When asked about quarterback Logan Smothers, Frost said that he is a fast thinker.
“What I really like about him is his ability to see the field and make decisions,” Frost said.
However, Frost also noted that he has work to do to get better as a quarterback.
>> “We’ve got the talent right now that I think can win in this league,” Frost said about the talent at wide receiver and running back. “We’ve got to get them refined.”
However, he added that the “musical chairs” of who is and isn’t playing each week hasn’t helped.
>> Frost said the plan was to get quarterback Luke McCaffrey more involved against Purdue and Minnesota, but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. He said McCaffrey will get time this week against Rutgers.
>> Nelson is missing two teeth, which were knocked out during the Penn State game.
“I’ve been putting some straws in there, kinda fun,” he said.
>> Nelson said he believes Nebraska is close to turning the corner. As for any negativity around the program and coaches?
“I think they’re crazy,” Nelson said about those who feel that way.